So, I was hoping to get my garden started. Not in this venue, but elsewhere, I have been busily bitching about how poor 2016 was for gardening, and I’d like 2017 to be better. There have been lots of lovely days upon which I could have gotten started, but the lovely days have never yet coincided with an opportunity to actually garden.
Yesterday: sunny and warm. Today: Rain and snow mixed. Such is my life.
Well, I confess, I did get about 3 minutes of gardening done. I managed to pull out the tomato cages, deconstruct the carlin pea tower, get red of some dead stalks, and find some things that re-seeded: oak leaf lettuce, salsify, collards, chicory, land cress. So I can start with the harvesting; there are plenty of baby greens to be had, and the jerusalem artichoke is not yet out of the ground, so I can dig some of those roots.
The strawberries are coming back, and the raspberries, gooseberries, and rhubarb are all growing again. The garlics, onions, bloody dock, alesfoot, creeping bellflower, lovage, dandelions, and probably a few other things are all poking around in the back yard and the gardens, so even if I don’t get anything in the ground during the early planting season, I will still have nice salads.
But none of that really gets seeds in the ground. I’ve decided that I have an entire 16th c garden with seriously unusual exotics in it, as the plants I have and the reseeding I allow have turned my garden plan full of regimented and contained beds into a sort of demented green delusion. The beds are going to be wild and woolly and I think I will plant a lot of garlic and onions around the sides of everything to keep out the rodents.
So, to amuse myself while the rain pisses all over my plans, I worked on another garden project I have been futzing around with for years.
Oh, yes, you know it’s all Scadian. You know it.
I have been working on a google photo album I am calling Plants for a Past (you know, like an unambitious version of the absolutely marvelous PFAF database) for people who might like to try growing a Renaissance kitchen garden.
It’s pretty unwieldy; I’d like to cut it down to a photo page per plant. SO I made a few collages. It’s going to be a while before all the plants I want to include are collaged and essayed (ha, I verbed those nouns!), but I did get SOME done. Here, I will show you:
Broad Bean collage featuring a photo of the plant growing in my garden, the packet of seeds I used, and a period picture of the plant to demonstrate its availability before 1601.
The collages are like perfectly encapsulated pieces of shorthand SCA documentation. I showed you that I found the plant(Broad beans)in a pre-1601 reference, I showed you that I obtained a reasonable cultivar for that plant (Broad Windsor Fava ), and I showed you that I grew it successfully.
A&S documentation goes on about a lot of other things, too; it’s clear that when I am done with writing out this project, I will have written another free online book, to include one (possibly 2) transcriptions of 15th-16th C. garden manuals. But the collages are just about demonstrating what you might see in a 16th c. garden, and they don’t need all that.
Here are the other ones I got done:
Nasturtium, a New World plant that quickly crossed the ocean as “Indian Cress.”
Carlin Peas, a pre-1601 cultivar of field-type pea.
I had a hard time limiting myself to just these three period references, because there are a surprising amount of pictures of ‘maters in the late 1500’s. I presume it is because they were exotic and pretty. Just as an aside, I chose this variety of heirloom tomato to represent the 16th C. tomato because it is delish and because it is Italian. The Italians were eating tomatoes well before the English.
Good King Henry
Scarlet Runner Bean, another New World transplant.
There you go. I only have about a million more collages to make.
 Martock is supposed to be an older cultivar that Broad Windsor, but I also have to keep in mind plant yield, Wisconsin versus English growing seasons, and availability, since the purpose of documenting my massive A&S garden project is to allow others to replicate what I did. Besides, go find Martock broad beans in your U.S. garden store or through a major online retailer that ships to the States. Go on. I dare you. Give up? Okay, I know what to do. Go join Seed Savers Exchange for 35 or so bucks and find someone who has some they can sell to you for a combined cost of about 6 bucks… Or use Broad Windsor Fava. 🙂